[Summary: To measure social media ROI we need to know about the ROI of paper-based outreach]
If you've ever handed out a leaflet to a class of school students in tutorial you may be familiar with then finding 1/2 those leaflets dropped in the bin on the way out (recycling bin hopefully…).
If you look at the piles of paper on most office desks – and then ask the desk inhabitant how many of these documents they've actually read – and how many they've responded to in any way – you may well find their desk is collonised by many unread and unresponded too leaflets, magazines, reports and papers. Even though all those leaflets had a tear-off slip, and the magazines had a letters page.
Printing 1000 leaflets doesn't mean 1000 leaflets get read.
But leaflets don't report back how many people have read it.
A blog post does.
And a blog post might only be reporing 150 readers, and 2 comments.
But then, did two people write in to respond to the leaflet?
If we're comparing the print-run of your paper publications, with the number of people who've read what you've written online – then it strikes me that we're not comparing like-with-like.
Which has got me thinking about the need for an initial case study on measuring the ROI of a traditional charity publication, or the ROI of including a letters page in a paper-based supporters newsletter to help us in developing comparisons and a baseline to work with?
(Note: I'm thinking broadly in the context of basic social media interactions that involve offering information, inviting feedback and possibly getting into a conversation – not in terms of those that are involved in fundraising etc. when measuring ROI may be a simpler process…)
Photo Credit: Waste Paper by PhotoGraham